What is No-Fault Divorce?
Back in the day, divorces were not so easy to come by as they are in today’s society. Someone seeking a divorce could only obtain one by showing that his or her spouse was at fault and had committed an act warranting a divorce. Irreconcilable differences was not an option.
Prior to no-fault divorce hitting the scene, a divorce applicant typically had to allege such things as adultery, felony, abandonment, or some other act that would rise to the level of requiring a dissolution of the marriage. The other spouse could still seek to defend against and fight the divorce petition.
What Is the Difference Between Dissolution and Divorce?
As previously stated, a dissolution must be amicable, and the parties must be able to collaborate to negotiate the terms of their separation agreement. The court’s only role is to review and approve the final agreement before granting the termination.
A divorce, like dissolution, can be no-fault, but that is where the similarities end. Divorces can also be fault-based, which means that one party can claim that the other party’s actions caused the marriage to end.
In a divorce, the parties are not required to agree on any of the terms of their settlement and may contest everything from property division to child custody arrangements. Because the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own, they may petition the court to make a final decision for them.
Dissolutions are generally the best option when the parties can communicate and make decisions together. Divorces are more appropriate when the parties disagree on a wide range of issues or are unable to work together.
The Introduction of Ohio No-Fault Divorce
In 1970, California introduced the concept of no-fault divorce in the United States. This concept of no-fault in a divorce is one in which one petitioning for a divorce is not required to show any wrongdoing on the part of his or her spouse in order to be granted a dissolution of the marriage. The court can simply grant a request for divorce without any evidentiary showings of a marital contract breach or legal defenses the respondent spouse may have to keep the marriage intact.
Prior to the establishment of no-fault divorce, those seeking a divorce would often try to find ways to bypass the fault requirements in order to obtain a divorce. Having a showing-of-fault requirement could be quite difficult when both spouses had some culpability yet both did not consent to dissolving the marriage. As a result, legal fictions started arising as a way to creatively get around the statutory fault showing requirement.
Advantages and Disadvantages to the No-Fault Divorce System
There are many advantages to the use of the no-fault divorce system. Although the institution of marriage is certainly important, it gives individuals more say in their own relationships. Many would argue that requiring spouses to remain in a marriage that is unhappy or, for whatever reason, should not be maintained, is giving the government too much control in people’s private lives.
Having a no-fault system may also end up sparing spouses from enduring harm, including emotional and physical, at the hands of the other spouse who may seek a dangerous way to get out of the marriage. Since the parties do not need to focus on making evidentiary showings of fault, the divorce can be less expensive, as it makes it easier and faster to obtain a divorce. There is no longer a drawn out process.
On the other hand, many would say that removing the showing-of-fault requirement makes it so easy to obtain a divorce that people will no longer respect the institution of marriage. It makes it very easy to get married on a whim, as people can easily get out of it. This may end up resulting in a clogging of the court system as more people choose to petition for divorce since their own culpability will not be at issue.
States Who Have Adopted No-Fault Divorce
Pretty much every single state in the United States has followed California’s lead in adopting a no-fault divorce system. Indeed, by 1983, every single state except New York and South Dakota had instituted some form of the no-fault divorce concept.
In 1985, South Dakota joined the no-fault divorce bandwagon. In New York, there is not a true no-fault divorce system. However, if both spouses enter into a notarized separation agreement and then live separately for a full year, it can be converted to a divorce by the family law judge.